Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Jon Gericke speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Gericke: China’s big hydrogen fuel cell car production is set to boost demand for South Africa’s platinum.
Creamer: When you see fuel cell electric vehicles, then think platinum. When you think platinum, think South Africa. So, we are going to flatten them with platinum, because China is a huge developer of the vehicles now. They are going to be the first to mass produce fuel cell electric vehicles. We haven't had that in the past.
Toyota has been producing and South Korea has been producing, but not mass producing them. This is a huge boost and it indicates that what platinum is used for now in the automotive industry, three-million ounces of platinum a year go into the automotive industry already for our normal internal combustion engines because it is auto catalysis that cleans up the air. In less than 10 years, if this projection continues, there will be three-million ounces going into these fuel cell electric vehicles, which will be a massive boost.
The fuel cell electric vehicles also require green hydrogen and that also is joined at the hip to platinum group metals. Really good news coming out of the World Platinum Investment Council this week.
Gericke: Sasol signed an agreement this week in connection with generating green hydrogen in Saldanha.
Creamer: Very good news, because they signed a memorandum of agreement this week with Saldanha to also look into green hydrogen. You can see this whole green hydrogen phenomenon is sweeping around the world so fast it is unbelievable. I'm glad that the South Africans are really keeping up. Sasol has been wanting to change their grey hydrogen. They burn coal, and they get grey hydrogen.
They need to change that to green hydrogen, using a beautiful African sunshine and prime African wind. Putting that through seawater and getting this green hydrogen, bring it up in pipelines, and then not in burning coal any longer. So, a great move there. It is not only happening in Saldanha, but also, Sasol is looking at Boegoebaai in the Northern Cape. Other efforts for green hydrogen are in Prieska, the Northern Cape, and in the Eastern Cape, the former Eskom CEO Thulani Gcabashe, is also working on green hydrogen and green ammonia, at Coega.
Gericke: A second major initiative to decarbonise steelmaking was launched this week.
Creamer: That means that you don't use coal any longer to make steel. You have got coking coal used to make steel. Anglo American this week signed an agreement with the German company ThyssenKrupp Steel, one of the biggest in Europe, to bring in a different method of making steel. Anglo American has got Kumba Iron Ore, in the Northern Cape, where high-quality iron-ore is mined.
ThyssenKrupp Steel want that. In fact, Anglo also signed with the Japanese, Nippon Steel. They also want the high quality iron-ore that Anglo can provide, so that they can decarbonise the whole steelmaking process, turn it green as well, also using green hydrogen.
Gericke: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.